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In 2012, more than $677 million was waiting to be claimed by its rightful owners. If you have moved often, or moved overseas, and have accounts you use rarely or not at all, your financial institution may have lost track of you. If this happens, your money can become ‘unclaimed’.

Lost bank accounts, shares and life insurance policies

Unclaimed money from bank accounts, shares and investments, and life insurance policies is lodged with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and is transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund, but is available to be claimed at any time by the rightful owner. There are no time limits on claiming this money.

You can find your money by using ASIC’s Unclaimed Money Search, available at www.moneysmart.gov.au. If you find some money, you should lodge a claim. How you claim depends on what type of money it is – check the website for more information on claiming what’s yours.

The Australian Government pays interest on unclaimed money, calculated from 1 July 2013.

For more information on finding unclaimed money, see www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/find-unclaimed-money

Lost superannuation

If you’ve ever changed your name, address or job, you may have lost track of some of your super. Having several super accounts could mean that fees and charges are reducing your overall super investment.

The Australian Taxation Office can help you with details of all your super accounts, including any you have lost track of or forgotten about. If the government, your super fund or your employer can’t find an account to transfer your super to, the ATO will hold it on your behalf.

For ways to track your superannuation, see www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/In-detail/Keeping-track/Check-your-super

Lost deceased estates and more

State governments hold unclaimed money from deceased estates, share dividends, salaries and wages, cheques, trust money, over-payments and proceeds of sale, to name a few. A list of the contacts for each state is available from the Moneysmart website.

Stop your money becoming unclaimed

To stop your money becoming unclaimed:

For bank accounts, make a small deposit (even 5 cents will do) or a small withdrawal once every 2 to 3 years

Keep in touch with the company or financial institution and tell them your new address when you move.

Fees to reclaim your money

ASIC does not charge fees for its Unclaimed Money Search.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is aware of a scam where you may be approached with a false claim that you are entitled to a reimbursement or rebate, such as for overpaid taxes, bank fees or some sort of compensation. The contact may come by mail, telephone, email, text message or social media.

They will pretend to be from the government, a bank or trusted organisation, and will ask you to make a small initial payment to cover ‘administration fees’ or taxes, in order to claim the amount owed to you.

Always verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organisation directly – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.

More information on these scams is available www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/unexpected-money/reclaim-scams

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